Originally published Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 11:15p.m.
Defining moments become a microcosm of a baseball season. When pieced together, each of those moments can either make, or break, a club’s hopes for a postseason appearance.
When it comes to the Arizona Diamondbacks, will an eight-game home stand in the middle of August make or break their season?
Of course not.
But the one undeniable key factor that matters down the stretch for any ball club can be summed up in one word: “Confidence.”
If the Diamondbacks go let’s say 2-6 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros this week, will their confidence take a hit? If they’re competitive and lose a bunch of one-run games like Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Dodgers, likely not.
This is why in baseball, the men who lead teams are called “managers” and not coaches.
It’s Torey Lovullo’s job as skipper of the Diamondbacks to “manage” the players who make up his roster and keep them moving forward, despite a hiccup in the schedule.
Every team goes through them, even the great ones, and so far, the former Boston Red Sox bench coach has done an admirable job with the hometown club.
As of Thursday afternoon, the current eight-game home stand features three first-place clubs including Los Angeles (80-33), Chicago (59-54) and Houston (71-42). And if the sports books in Las Vegas are correct, both the Dodgers and the Astros are clear-cut favorites to make the World Series in October.
To make matters worse, the Dodgers, Cubs and Astros have a combined runs scored differential of 399. Keep in mind, the Diamondbacks are plus-116 in the runs scored versus runs given up category, so don’t fret just yet.
Perhaps a greater scope to consider is the entire month of August, when the Diamondbacks play only one team not in a playoff hunt. It didn’t help they lost two of three to those same San Francisco Giants this past weekend, however.
Arizona has six games against the Cubs (1st place), six against the Dodgers (1st place), four against the Astros (1st place), three against the Minnesota Twins (3rd place) and four in New York against the Mets (3rd place).
Likely one of the toughest schedules the Diamondbacks have ever faced in their 20-year history in the desert, emerging from this week’s eight-game home stand with a 4-4 record would surely be a victory in the Diamondbacks eyes and a solid step toward making it through the dog days of summer unscathed.
Let’s hope their fans agree.
Brian M. Bergner Jr. is associate sports editor and a columnist for The Daily Courier. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Periscope and SoundCloud at @SportsWriter52, or on Facebook at @SportsAboveTheFold. Reach him at email@example.com or 928-445-3333, ext. 1106.